Israeli Court Knocks El Al For Gender Discrimination

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In a case that almost didn’t get brought to court, Israel’s national airline, El Al, has been convicted of gender discrimination when a woman was asked to take a different seat because an ultra-orthodox man didn’t want to sit next to her.

That once-common practice, which caters to a whim of someone from a sect with otherworldly-strict beliefs, was brought down by a suit filed by a holocaust survivor who originally intended to ignore the affront. But a couple of weeks after her flight from Newark to Tel Aviv was marred by the incident, Renee Rabinowitz, 81, attended an event where a representative of the Israel Religious Action Center discussed IRAC’s campaign against airlines’ practice of accommodating what Rabinowitz described as “a Haredi-looking [ultra orthodox] gentleman”. Such individuals are members of a group representing the social and cultural interests of fervently religious Jews. Created in response to escalating assimilation and secularization within worldwide Jewry, they aim to preserve and maintain Torah-bound Judaism, both on the individual and collective level.

But in refusing to sit next to a woman on, for example, an airplane, “a passenger asking to move their seat because of their gender will qualify as discrimination, and as such will be prohibited,” the Israeli court said in an English-language statement.

More specifically, The Jerusalem Post reported, “Requesting a seat change on an airplane before or after takeoff, based on a passenger’s gender, constitutes a breach of the Prohibition of Discrimination in Products, [Services and Entry into Public Places Law],” ruled Judge Dana Cohen-Lekach of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court.

The JP website added, “The phenomenon of ultra-Orthodox men insisting on not sitting next to unrelated women on air flights has developed into a familiar pattern in recent years, with such demands frequently causing problems and delays for airlines due to the refusal of such men to take their seats before takeoff.”

El Al has said it will take the ruling seriously, and the airline is expected to modify its rules and retrain flight attendants within the 45-day period specified by the court.

The Guardian quoted the airline as saying, “The sides reached an agreement that the airline’s procedures would be clarified to its employees. The court validated this agreement and the company will respect the verdict.”

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Child- and Gang-Rapes Are Running Rampant in India

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The family of a five-year-old girl who was raped stage a protest on Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road seeking treatment for her at a private hospital in Gurgaon, India, and fast disposal of the case.

Of all the many and oh-so-varied cultures in the world, India’s seems to be among the least appreciative of the concept enshrined in the US Declaration of Independence, that: “All men are created equal.” Women there, only second to the second-class treatment of women in predominantly Moslem countries, far too often are made victims of brutal rapes. Even, even more sadly, when they are but children.

Two recent reports on Newser (and here) paint a horrid picture of the problem: A 10-year-old being raped, made pregnant, then having to struggle to get (as she finally did) permission to get aborted, and another couple of women getting gang raped – one in a moving car (the mind boggles!) – in a culture that, in too many instances, still also accepts revenge killings.

I am not a religious person, and I have trouble getting my mind about how, and why, practitioners of various religions – any of them – faithfully accepting, as they do, what they do.

My wife and I watched a “Law & Order” show recently about a case where a super-religious girl was taken advantage of – raped, in short – by a fellow believer in her ‘faith’ that him having sex with her – “curative sex” – would free her of her desire for another woman. Guess what? The spiritual leader who encouraged his flock to so behave, ended up, as the encourager of illegal actions, in prison. So, of course, did the rapist. And the saddest news what, they both believed they did nothing wrong.

Alaska Town Spends Bulk of Winter In One Building

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Turtle-like, Whittier AK pulls everything inside a single building – all the people, stores, services – as residents ride out Arctic-quality snow and cold every winter. Begich Towers originally was two buildings used to house military personnel and families during World War II. Then a third structure was added during the 1950’s, and a few years ago they were repurposed as a single entity intended to house nearly all of the town’s 218 full-time residents in condo-like units that are interspersed with such services as “a playground, a church, a post office, a clinic, two convenience stores, a police station, a video rental store, city offices and a laundromat all under the one roof,” Smithsonian Magazine reported in late March.

A school serves the community from across the street from Begich Towers.

‘Sounds like a setting made for the kinds of misunderstandings and mishaps forming the under-girding of Fawlty Towers, home to the British TV comedy of the same name. (John Clease created the show with his then-wife, Connie Booth, and both starred in it with Prunella Scales and Andrew Sachs. In 2000, it ranked Number One on a list of 100 Greatest British Television Programs.)

Basel Fawlty, a hotel keeper, regularly reacts (mostly inappropriately) to things his staff and guests do. He could have used a dose of the treatment given to “crabby” members of the Begich Towers’ community.


“If somebody’s crabby around here, we just tell them, ‘Alright I’ll see you later,’” June Miller, a full-time Towers resident told Smithsonian Magazine. “[We] let them go and take care of their issues.” After some time apart, she said, everything gets back to normal.

While that approach might have occasionally worked at Fawlty Towers, it probably wouldn’t have, because [1] Basel Fawlty was crabby beyond belief, and [2] that was the whole point of the BBC comedy!

Air India Addressing Groping Incidents with Restraints

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A BBC report said yesterday (1/25) that in response to some females complaining that they’d been groped by other passengers, Air India is setting aside the first six rows in the coach class area for females only.

The airline also announced that cabin staff would have physical restraints available to them and crew will be authorized to use them to contain unruly passengers who refuse to cooperate voluntarily.

The station said that Air India is seeking to “enhance comfort level to female passengers” and reassure female passengers traveling alone.

In my limited experience flying Air India I’ve witnessed no groping incidents or anything of the sort. But I have been offended – to the point I felt I was being assaulted – by both bad breath and excessive body odors when flying with that carrier. And on transatlantic flights, that’s nevertheless a good deal less offensive than being groped – an experience I underwent once, on a NYC subway train at the 34th Street/6th Avenue station. That was more than 45 years ago, and the memory lingers on. I can only imagine what an unsuspecting female’s reaction would be.

I have no idea if air marshals continue to accompany all or most flights, but I were involved with security for Air India, I would work to address that issue – and let them, not ordinary cabin crew, deal with super rude fliers.

Man Steals $4.8m from Boss, Puts $1m of it Into in-app Buys

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After embezzling some $4.8 million from his employer over the course of seven years, a California man who then had more money than he knew what to do with squandered $1 million on in-apps buys – purchases tied to the playing Game of War, a mobile strategy game for Apple devices. It’s likely that, after he’s sentenced in May, 2017, Kevin Lee Co will have an ample amount of prison time to regret his actions. He was convicted earlier this year on charges of wire fraud and money laundering, according to the BBC.
Mr. Co had worked for a distributor of Caterpillar equipment for two years when, in early 2008, after being named head of the accounting department, he devised a scheme to skim the money from the company’s accounts. His account grew progressively richer until March, 2015, when his fleecing was discovered.
Aside from his Game of War in-app buys, Co reportedly spent heavily on luxury cars, plastic surgery and season tickets for two San Francisco-based sports teams.

‘Probably bet on them, as well!

Throw Something Away In Mumbai, Win Free WiFi Time

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A five-year-old startup in Mumbai, India is aiming to help keep discarded “stuff” off its home city’s street by rewarding users of its WiFi Trash Bins with free WiFi access. Called ThinkScream, the idea behind the company’s initial product was “to solve everyday problems in an innovative way, one solution as a time,” company co-founded Raj Desai told The Economic Times of India.

The company’s 4.5-foot (1.4 m) tall plastic bins are equipped with an LED screen that produces an access code when someone tosses something in the bin. Desai told The Times that the bins employ several technologies “to enable this seemingly simple function; The first is the WiFi technology, which is optimized to make sure that all codes work in sync; The second is the technology used for motion sensing totrace thee movement of the trash as it hits the bin; The last is to link the motion sensor with the WiFi network for a seamless operation,” he explains.

The company premiered the bins at a music festival in 2014 to provide attendees easy access to WiFi. Since then, ThinkScream has hooked up to similar networks in retail stores and at trade shows. They’ve also received queries from companies seeing the bins as offering a great branding opportunity, but that was never the premise behind the product’s creation, Desai says. “It was always to trigger positive changes in deepp-seated behavior around public cleanliness in India,” he declares.

Though no timetable has been announced, the company’s aim is to eventually see their bins set up alongside streets.

Cold War Nuke Shelter Discovered in Britain

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(Photo: Eastnews Press Agency)

It was built in the late ’50’s, when tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were escalating, and there was real reason to fear the world was on the brink of a nuclear war: An underground bunker, deep in the East Anglian (east of London) countryside that was voluntarily staffed by watchers who were dedicated to performing probably useless services if a nuclear attack came, The Mirror reported earlier this week. (The world was, believe or not, a far more innocent, but also more frightening, place in the ’50’s!)

Was it or the many similar sites around the country a good idea? Probably not, given that they were, judging from this one, tiny, with next to no food or water supplies, and seemed to have minders totally ill-equipped to deal with ‘the morning after’ … or beyond.

Britain today in very few ways resembles that country as recently as the early-mid 1970’s, when I lived there. Early on, in that period, it was required that one leave ‘sidelights’ on on a vehicle parked on a roadside. Heaven forbid an errant horse-pulled wagon should collide with one’s automobile! Or whatever.

Until the late 1960’s, when the Post Office Tower was erected, no building in London could be higher than the 365-foot-high dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was built (in the late 17th century) atop the city’s highest hill. Now, there are 18 buildings in London topping out at 150 meters (492) or more, with one, the Shard, stretching 309.6 m (1,016 ft) skyward.

Since 1979, when the Jubilee line was opened, the underground system has consisted of eleven lines. Twenty years later, in 1999, the Jubilee line was extended to the then-booming Docklands area in London’s East End. When I lived in the city, Docklands was a virtual no-man’s land still looking, across much of the area, exactly as it did after German bombers turned factories and residences there into rubble.

(One afternoon in late 1973 or early ’74, when Britain was enduring scheduled periods of blackouts because electricity was in short supply (thanks to a combination of a miners’ strike and trimmed oil supplies from the MidEast as Arab countries fought Israel), I walked through the Docklands after having walked under the River Thames in a tunnel stretching north from Greenwich to The Isle of Dogs, on the eastern edge of Docklands. My walk eventually took me to my home at the time – a flat (apartment) in a 100-year old ‘mansion’ next door to The Royal Albert (concert) Hall in Kensington. I was familiar with most of the route, being a frequent explorer of London on foot.

But Docklands was new to me, and it frankly was a not-very-comfortable place to be as the natural light faded and no artificial light replaced it. Almost like walking the city would have been had there actually been a nuclear attack!

Photos from the time of the blackouts, in the above-cited article, reminded me just how long ago that was – and how, with wartime ‘we’ll muddle through’ spirit, the British people bore up amazing well through what truly was a period of serious hardships for many in the country.

But in the end, it was nothing like hardships that would have been faced had ‘the bomb’ been dropped there. In hindsight, it’s easy to see the inadequacies of those small shelters like the one just unearthed in East Anglia.